DEWSBURY MOOR coach Danny Maun says the tragic death of Archie Bruce ‘broke his heart’.
The 20-year-old rugby league player was found dead in his hotel room in Toulouse on Sunday morning after making his debut for Batley Bulldogs against the French side the previous evening.
And Maun, who coached Archie at the Maroons this year, described him as an “outstanding kid”.
He said: “I had high hopes for him, he was my project if you like. He was one of the players who wanted to better themselves in life and to play at the next level.
“I saw him playing one week and I thought he’s got everything, he’s got the tools to play for Batley and I just wanted him to make his debut.
“He had to wait 10 months, he was frustrated and kept saying ‘I’m not going to get a chance’, but he got his chance at the weekend.
“It’s just shocking, it broke my heart. At the same time, I’m just really proud of what he’s done.”
Archie joined the Bulldogs as a trialist at the start of the season, while also playing for Dewsbury Moor – where he amassed 11 tries and was named man of the match in 11 of the 15 games he played in.
Maun had spoken to Archie just hours after his debut in Batley’s 46-0 defeat to Toulouse on Saturday night.
He said: “He was probably the happiest he’s ever been, he was made up on the phone to me.
“It was the best phone call, I went to bed and I was so happy for him. I remember my debut and I know what it feels like to make your debut.
“I was so proud of him, and I told him that.”
But he received the tragic news the following morning from Batley chairman Kevin Nicholas.
Maun added: “In the early hours of (Sunday) morning I got a phone call from Kevin Nicholas, I thought he was joking with me at first.
“But I knew it was something serious, I didn’t want it to be true.
“I just can’t deal with it, it’s rocked us all. I don’t know what to say, there are no words.”
Archie’s parents flew out to Toulouse on Monday to join Batley head coach Matt Diskin and Mr Nicholas who stayed behind to support his family. Most of the Bulldogs players returned from France at the start of this week.